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Title: Termite Presence and Feeding on Loblolly Pine Wood Differs Among Four Root-Infecting Bluestain (ophiostomatoid) Fungal Species

Source: Environmental Entomology

Author(s)Clay, Natalie ; Siegert, Courtney ; Tang, Juliet ; Little, Nathan ; Eckhardt, Lori ; Riggins, John J.

Publication Year: 2021  View PDF »

Category: Journal Articles

Abstract: Bark beetles and root weevils can impact forests through tree death on landscape scales. Recently, subterranean termites have been linked to these beetles via the presence of bluestain fungi (Ascomycota: Ophiostomataceae), which are vectored to trees by beetles. However, only a small subset of bluestain species have been examined. Here, we tested whether termite-bluestain association patterns in the field reflect termite feeding preference in laboratory choice trials. We documented the presence of four bluestain fungi (Leptographium procerum (W.B. Kendr.), L. terebrantis (Barras & Perry), Grosmannia huntii (Rob.-Jeffr.), and G. alacris (T.A. Duong, Z.W. de Beer & M.J. Wingf.) in the roots of 2,350 loblolly pine trees in the southeastern United States and whether termites were present or absent on these roots and paired this with laboratory choice feeding trials. Termites were found 2.5-fold on tree roots with at least one bluestain fungus present than tree roots without bluestain fungi. Although termites in this study and others were associated with L. procerum, L. terebrantis, and marginally G. huntii, termites only showed preferential feeding on wood inoculated with G. huntii in laboratory trials. This suggests that increased termite presence on wood with bluestain fungi may be driven by factors other than increased wood palatability. Termites could thus disproportionately affect wood turnover rates for specific pools (e.g., bark beetle and root weevil attacked trees) and in some cases (e.g., G. huntii) accelerate wood decomposition. This study supports the growing evidence that the association between subterranean termites and bluestain fungi is spatially and taxonomically widespread.

Keywords: Sapstain fungi; subterranean termites; bark beetles; multitrophic interactions

Publication Review Process: Formally Refereed

File size: 3,072 kb(s)

Date posted: 10/25/2021

This publication is also viewable on Treesearch:  view
RITS Product ID: 10384
Current FPL Scientist associated with this product
Tang, Juliet
Research Forest Products Technologist

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